The International Woodworking Machinery & Furniture Supply Fair-U.S.A. has long been an important source of revenue to support programs and activities of the three sponsoring associations: the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Assn.

By their own accounting, IWF officials project the show will be down one-third or more in terms of the number of exhibitors. But actual exhibit space will be down even more when one considers that the industry’s largest woodworking machinery manufacturers and distributors – the companies that take the largest booth spaces - will not be present. This translates into less income for the three association sponsors, that have come to sorely count on proceeds generated by the biennial event for their annual operating budgets .

This revenue drain will strain their respective leaderships to offer programs and services that their member companies have come to expect. Will service cuts give cause for some not to renew their memberships? Fewer members would diminish the respective association’s strength.

We realize that the decisions by companies to cancel their plans to exhibit at IWF are not easy ones and in most cases are deeply rooted to the economic realities wrought by the housing market collapse. In fact, IWF acknowledged in its press release that it looks forward to companies choosing not to participate this year to return in future years.

For those of us who value strong industry associations and trade shows – and IWF has long been the strongest of them all in North America – we can only hope that 2010 will be remembered as the year that unprecedented challenges were met and new opportunities were realized.

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